Experiments in Publishing: an update on ‘The Anthropocene Hymnal’

I am making progress with my forthcoming anthology, The Anthropocene Hymnal. I have selected the poems to be included in the manuscript, engaged a cover artist, and the book is starting to take shape. But I am far from near the end of my publishing journey.

Publishing in my name

Rather than publish in my own name, The Anthropocene Hymnal will be published under the banner of Experiments in Fiction, which I have plans to grow into an independent publishing company. I am not yet ready to incorporate, as this book will be a charitable project, but one way or another I will be creating my first “EIF” publication.

Self-publishing, especially an anthology, is not as straightforward as it may sound. As well as an eye for how the book should look, and an ear for how the poems should sound together, you need to understand the legal connotations of the work you are doing, and the accounting implications (for example, as all my royalties will be going to charity, I need to ensure that I do not end up liable for tax on those royalties).

Then you have to find an outlet which will publish your work for you (most people choose Amazon, as they have the biggest distribution platform, but make sure you read their terms and conditions before signing up to any agreements, and also be aware that you will receive your royalties two months in arrears: i.e. they will keep hold of your money for an extra 60 days just to make profit on the interest.)

I did consider creating an e-book and selling exclusively through this website as an alternative, but I am not sure I would be able to do all the necessary conversions, and I don’t want to miss out on the sales potential of a platform like Amazon.

A pioneer self-publisher

Thankfully, I am not alone. Many people bypass the traditional publishing route these days as it is just too competitive and difficult to break into. Unfortunately, poetry does not tend to attract the attention of big-name publishers anyway, as they believe they cannot make money by selling poetry. It might be possible to publish the anthology via a small press, but this doesn’t make a lot of sense in my case as I might have to wait months for an answer, would get a smaller percentage of royalties, and what they can offer in terms of marketing potential is probably not much beyond my own capabilities and those of my network of fellow writers, readers and contributors.

An early pioneer in self-publishing was one of my favourite poets and artists, William Blake. Trained as an artist, he invented his own engraving technique in order to print his own books which are a combination of text and art (see featured image above for an example.) The process was long and complicated, so much so that he produced very few copies of his own books. But what masterworks they are, and how they are treasured today, not least for their beauty and rarity!

Have patience

Though I cannot hope to produce anything as exquisitely beautiful as Blake’s illuminated manuscripts, I do believe the Hymnal will be a work of beauty. I believe in this book. Please have patience with me while I work towards its publication, as I must have patience with myself.

Featured image from Blake’s Book of Urizen, as found at The William Blake Archive (public domain).

26 thoughts on “Experiments in Publishing: an update on ‘The Anthropocene Hymnal’

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  1. Ingrid I wish you wel with your publishing. I am very interested to hear about Amazon, as, like many people, I was going to use that route. I did not know somef of the things you have pointed out.
    I also have tried making my Own books up and have done five different ones so far. Mine also work for charity . I managed to sell quite a lot of them at different craft fairs and did make quite a bit of money for charity. I know that even if the shop is willing to sell your books you do not get the full attention that the book deserves although I did find a shop that said they would sell my books.they did sell quite a lot. it is really a very hard task trying to find an outlet for your books and I will be really interested to see how you get on. all the very very best to you Ingrid in your efforts .

    1. Thank you so much Lorraine, I will keep you posted. And all the best with your publishing ventures. If you need a proofreader I am happy to help, I sent you an email via your contact form but maybe it didn’t work!

      1. Oh gosh Ingrid. Thank you so very much for your offer and that is so very kind of you. I will certainly bear that in mind but I know that you are very busy. I am so sorry that I did not see your email. I did keep looking for one but one never appeared so I do not really know why. Would you be happy to copy what you said to me and send it to the email address that I will now give to you? If you would like to send it to lorrainelewis427@yahoo.com it should get to me ok. I am really really sorry about that Ingrid as I realy did want to hear from you. Please feel free to use that email address. It is a safe one. Much love to you ❤️

      2. Of course Lorraine – thank you so much. Don’t worry I wasn’t upset just didn’t want to bother you too much 😅❤️

      3. Oh Ingrid, it would never be a bother. I am wondering what went wrong with my Contact form but never mind. I will ask hubby to check that out for me. I am only too happy to talk any time Ingrid. I look forward to gearing from you and will let you know that the email got to me as soon as it arrives. Bless you Ingrid. ❤️

  2. I self-published for 24 years, so I understand much of what you are facing. I believe the primary key to successful (lucrative) publishing is advertising and marketing. It’s not a simple matter of publish it they will come. No matter how good your content, having a good prospective customer list that you can reach with compelling copy is a must.

  3. Thank you for an informative update that is alive with the closeness this book is to your heart and those writers within it. I love that you are seeking the best possible route for yourself and the words you seek to honor through informing yourself and exploring all the options.
    I wish you all the best in the Experiments In Fiction imprint as it blooms into the flower it is meant to be! <3

  4. Thank you for sharing your publishing status with us. Your final product will be amazing, given the attention and care you put toward your writing and projects. Best wishes and enjoy the journey. I look forward to ordering and reading. 😊

      1. I am glad you are.💓 So many layers of learning, which I have barely begun to work through, but it does keep life interesting and creative. ✨

  5. This is a very engaging post. I can understand the magnitude of the complications in publishing, having struggled through a much simpler process from this. But you seem determined, and that will hopefully get you over all the hurdles.
    My best of luck to you, to see this published finally.

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